Meet the Woman Who Transformed a Tesla Into a “Truckla” Pickup

Woman Transforms Tesla into Truckla
(YouTube/Simone Giertz)

Everyone has their own opinions about Elon Musk, but you can’t deny he is an impressive individual. The man has helped send a reusable Space X rocket into space and back and has revolutionized the electric car industry with Tesla, but there is one thing he has yet to do: Embrace the pickup truck. As much as the man loves innovation and going places no one has ever gone, he cares surprisingly little about open-air storage and utility options for his vehicles.

That’s where Simone Giertz, the proclaimed “Queen of Crappy Robots,” has stepped in. In her most ambitious project to date, the YouTuber bought a brand new Tesla Model 3, hacked away a good quarter of it, and converted it into a functional pickup (though, calling it a “truck” might be a stretch).

Introducing, the Truckla (WARNING: Several car commercial clichés ahead).

Despite her reputation for constructing hilariously shitty robots, Simone went all out to create a sleek electric pickup that still retains the modern look and feel of a Tesla.

“I have an angle grinder and a welder and I’m not afraid to use them,” she said, before setting out on her car modification adventure.

Granted, should Tesla ever actually make a pickup truck of their own, it probably won’t be their Model 3 with the rear section cut out and replaced with a truck bed, but that doesn’t make the Truckla any less impressive. In her documentary video, Simone highlights the many, many friends and favors it has taken to build her dream car into a reality.

Simone still has plenty of ways she’d like to further modify Truckla and has continued to invite folks with expertise and know-how to jump on board the project. Hell, maybe Elon Musk should pop in with his two cents; he’s a pretty smart guy, even if he knows nothing about trucks.

15 Impactful Moments From Peaceful Protests Across the Country

Peaceful Protests Moments
(Twitter/RexChapman/GSVarley)

Many images in the news over the past several days have been ones of chaos, violence, and destruction. The grief and anger in response to the unjust killing of George Floyd is palpable. Floyd’s brother Rodney spoke to CBS news, and shared a powerful message with protesters on behalf of his brother. Rodney stated, “I’m asking for peace the same way my brother would ask us to if he could see the situation, if he was here. Peace. Peaceful protests. It is the best option we have to bring justice.”

So this is for you, Floyd—a collection of powerful, peaceful moments from protests across the country.

There was this enormous gathering in Chicago, with residents marching side by side.

Protesters in Augusta, Georgia held signs and embraced.

Long Beach residents sat peacefully in protest of Floyd’s murder.

In El Paso, Texas, protesters held signs with messages like “All lives don’t matter until black lives matter.”

San Diego protesters ask for justice.

Harlem protesters marched for eight peaceful miles.

Brooklyn streets were filled with nonviolent protesters.

David Holt, mayor of Oklahoma City, joined protesters. Perhaps more importantly, he listened.

A diverse group of Sioux Falls, South Dakota protesters unite, powerfully and peacefully.

These LA protesters are even practicing social distancing.

Protesters in Floyd’s home state protest his death peacefully, as he would have wanted.

Elmira, New York protesters carry signs, side by side.

Downtown Indianapolis protesters link arms as they face police officers.

Baltimore protesters take a knee and raise a fist for George Floyd.

And finally, this protester in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ending a long day of peacefully protesting by giving water to the police. He states, “I’m not mad at you.”

Father Figures: Blessed

“Being a dad is the best job in the world.

I’m a firefighter and am exposed to the harsh reality of the real world through death, sickness, and other unfortunate situations. Being able to hug my kids and wife allows me to humble myself through any hard times we may go through, because I am blessed that we are a healthy family with a roof over our heads.

The real world isn’t known to many, nor is it an absolute to those living in it. As long as I can make a difference and teach my children that they are blessed and therefore owe it to society to be a better person and help others, I can sleep at night.

Being a dad is truly the best job in the world.”

– Johnny Gray III

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

This Star Wars Cantina-Themed Bar Is the Ultimate Nerd Palace

Star Wars Cantina Bar
(Instagram/scumandvillainycantina)

We all need something to look forward to. Especially now. Even as some states start reopening at reduced capacity, there are plenty of cities that are still on total lockdown. And let me tell you, when your city is on total lockdown and you discover that there is a Star Wars Cantina-themed bar within walking distance of your home, time starts moving very, very slowly.

 

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Have you ever danced with a droid in the pale cantina light? . . #scumandvillainycantina #scifisafehouse

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This LA establishment is called Scum and Villainy Cantina (of course) and it is a self-proclaimed “friendly neighborhood geek bar.” Before you start having kittens because you clicked on the website and saw a guy gesturing at you to ‘live long and prosper,’ know that this bar caters to all geeks, not just the Star Wars variety. That’s right, this is a place where Trekkies, Star Wars fans, Battlestar Galactica fans, and every fan of niche nerdom can come together and live (and drink) in harmony. Vulkans can rub shoulders with Jawas and Cylons can shoot pool with Dr. Who. You are encouraged to dress up and they even host geek-themed tournaments for a variety of properties:

Some of their cocktails include The Mind Trick, Gold Bourbonkini, The Starbuck, Witness Me, Furiosa, I Aim to Misbehave, and the Dumbledore Special. Wondering what blue milk tasks like? This place has got you covered—and they’re even doing curbside pickup for those of us who can’t wait until the quarantine is over:

Just listen to how they describe themselves on their website:

Scum and Villainy Cantina is an intergalactic bar nestled deep within the wretched hive of Hollywood, CA. Inspired by the best drinking establishments from your favorite sci-fi and fantasy movies, Scum and Villainy is the geek bar you’ve been looking for.

Costumed bartenders join in the debate while mixing cocktails from a themed menu. Our laid-back atmosphere and strict “no bullying” mission creates a #ScifiSafeHouse not just for casual and mega-fans alike, but for anyone looking for a change of pace from the typical bar scene. Flying solo? Searching for your tribe? We definitely serve your kind here!

I will wait for you Scum and Villainy Cantina. I will wait for you as long as it takes.

Boy with Cerebral Palsy Completes Marathon, Raises Over 50k for Charity

Boy with Cerebral Palsy Completes Marathon, Raises Over 50k for Charity
(Facebook/Tobias’s Marathon Challenge)

Getting any kind of physical activity during quarantine is a struggle. Maybe you made the mistake of building everyone in your family a kickass Millennium Falcon bed and nobody has gotten up in weeks. At this point, even the couch I got at Goodwill feels safer than dealing with all of the unknowns happening in the world. Some people are turning to video games to stay fit inside, but not everyone has the money for expensive gaming consoles. 9-Year-Old Tobias Weller from Sheffield, England proved that all you need to get moving is your own body, and in his case, his trusty walker.

Tobias Weller has cerebral palsy, a congenital disorder that can cause weakness, stiffness, involuntary movements, and problems with posture. Symptoms vary from person to person, but in Tobias’s case, it meant that before quarantine began he was unable to walk more than 50 meters a day with the assistance of his walking frame. Early on in quarantine, Tobias saw news of Tom Moore, a 100-year-old WWII veteran who set out to raise money for COVID relief by walking laps around his home. This absolute beast of a man blew his $1,200 goal out of the freaking water and raised nearly $40 million dollars to date. Tobias watched “Captain” Tom Moore, slowly, carefully, holding onto his walker, putting one foot in front of the other as he circled his garden. Tobias looked down at his own walker and had an idea. If this man can do it, why can’t I?

So he did.

Every single day, Tobias began to walk. 50 meters at first, and then a bit more. Tobias walked through the pouring rain, powerful winds, and if he got lucky, a bit of sunshine. Initially, Tobias planned to walk 1 km, a truly lofty goal when your daily limit is supposedly 1/20th of that. Much like his hero Captain Tom, though, Tobias blew his goals out of the freaking water. Not only did Tobias end up walking up to 750 meters a day, but he also completed a whole. Dang. Marathon. 26 miles since he began his journey on March 21st. Friends, neighbors and even local police came to cheer for Tobias on his daily walks, beaming with pride at his determination.

Tobias stated during his appearance on This Morning, “I love it when I walk up and down my street every day because my neighbors come out and cheer for me – some of them even say, ‘We salute you, Tobias,’”.

Tobias’s campaign has raised over $50,000 so far for his chosen charities, Paces School where he attends classes, and Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Tobias has proven to us that all you really need to accomplish your goals is the willingness to put in the work, and the determination to keep pushing when things feel insurmountable.

We salute you, Captain Tobias.

Quentin Tarantino Calls ‘The Social Network’ the Best Movie of the Decade

The Social Network
(Columbia Pictures)

One of the fun things about pop culture is all the material it provides us, not merely to consume, but to discuss, interpret, and argue about. Talking about movies and TV is a fun distraction, and sometimes we can really use one. Like right now.

There are no mathematical equations to measure whether The Godfather II is better than Casablanca, or if Sgt. Pepper’s is better than Exile on Main Street. That lack of empirical truth allows for infinite takes, and for people who are interested in arguing, there is endless fodder for debate.

Sometimes, even the people making the art join in.

That’s what director and cinephile Quentin Tarantino did recently when he spoke to France’s Premiere magazine about the best movies of the decade.

He was pretty definitive about his answer too. “It’s ‘The Social Network,’ hands down… It is number 1 because it’s the best, that’s all! It crushes all the competition,” QT said, christening David Fincher’s movie about Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook as his favorite film of the decade.

The Social Network hit theaters in 2010 and was roundly acclaimed from the start, for Fincher’s direction, Aaron Sorkin’s snappy, pithy dialogue, and Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of the vindictive Zuckerberg. It’s not quite a left-field choice, having been nominated for 8 Oscars and winning three (Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Original Score), but not everyone agrees. Which is fun!

Twitter was quick to respond, with users citing their own favorites instead, like Moonlight, Inception, Fury Road, and more.

A few people had some fun with their suggestions.

Tarantino cited Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk as his second-best movie of the decade. Originally he had it on 7th on his list until he watched it a third time. “It wasn’t until that third time where I was gauging it for [my best of the decade list], that I could finally see past the spectacle into the people, into the people of the story. I could finally see the forest for the trees,” he explained.

What’s your favorite movie of the past 10 years?

The Dad Of The Month, May 2020: Andy Salamone

(Photos courtesy of Pier Reiter)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for May, 2020: Andy Salamone. Andy, who lost his eyesight at an early age, is an example of a man who has beaten the odds over and over again to exemplify exceptionalism, not only in his career, but in his role as a father. His brother, Pier, bragged up-and-down about Andy in his nomination:

(Courtesy of Pier Reiter)

“Andy is my older brother. He is totally blind after losing his sight in both eyes to the cancer Retinoblastoma at the age of 3. Andy never lets anything get in his way – he was on the high school and college (division 1) wrestling teams. He took his 1st government job in Pearl Harbor—far from family and the familiarity of Pennsylvania. After that, he settled in Washington DC and is now working for Defense Intelligence Agency.

(Courtesy of Pier Reiter)

“He and his wife also have a 9-year-old boy, Michael. Andy slid into the role of ‘dad’ without missing a beat – changing diapers, giving bottles, cooking meals, etc. As the years went on and Michael grew, Andy never let his vision slow his abilities & activities as a dad. Most recently Andy has embarked on numerous Boy Scout trips with Michael that include skill activities, hiking, and overnight camping trips.

(Courtesy of Pier Reiter)

“Andy is there for Michael in every way he needs whether it’s help with homework, someone to have a lightsaber battle with, someone to construct the LEGO kits with, or just someone with whom he can be emotionally open when needed. Andy not only demonstrates all these amazing dad qualities to his own son, but to my two young daughters and our other young nephew.

(Courtesy of Pier Reiter)

“It is also worth mentioning that he is a phenomenal cook (minus the time he lit a box of cereal & his oven mitt on fire) and can still beat me in a game of HORSE in basketball. Andy has defeated the odds and overcome discrimination as a blind man and never let anything get in his way. Yet, despite his work and extracurricular accomplishments, if you ask him what his favorite and most rewarding job is, he will say being Michael’s dad.”

To honor Andy and his unwavering dedication to killing the dad game, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Thanks for showing us what outstanding fatherhood in the face of adversity looks like, Andy!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

JK Simmons Signs on to Keep Playing J. Jonah Jameson in the MCU

Simmons is back as Jameson
(Sony Pictures)

At this point, there are so many superhero movies, we’re all gonna get a chance to play one. Superman has been played by three actors (and countless more on TV), Batman changes actors every other year, even the Hulk has smashed through multiple guys. Eventually, Iron Man and Captain America and the other Avengers will be rebooted as well. It’s just the way it is.

Some things, however, stay the same. Spider-Man has been rebooted a few times over the past 15 years, but some actors are so well-suited to their roles, they can’t be replaced. I’m talking about JK Simmons, who played J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire. He is so perfect as the bombastic editor that the people behind an entirely different Spider-Man trilogy are not even bothering to replace him.

In Spider-Man: Far From Home’s momentous post-credit scene, Peter Parker is shown being outed as the wallcrawler by Jameson, in a surprise cameo by Simmons. People immediately speculated if the cameo was just a fun Easter egg for fans or the start of something, and based on an interview Simmons recently did with PeopleTV’s CouchSurfing it seems it’s the latter.

He talked about his experience auditioning for Sam Raimi, and whether he’ll appear in more MCU movies as Jameson. He’s not entirely sure – replies, “I don’t know if I would use the word expect” in regards to being in more movies, but be admits he did sign on to do sequels if they choose to use him.

He’s happy to keep playing the role. “It’s great to have the opportunity, as these things evolve, to be one of the holdovers from the previous version.”

Father Figures: Pinky Swear

“One afternoon, during a game of peek-a-boo with her brother gone wrong, my one-year-old’s pinky creeped into the hinged side of the door right before he shut it.

I got the call at work and met her at the hospital. She was in agony and wailing was the only way she knew how to communicate her pain and fear. Every nurse and doctor had to unwrap the dressing to verify that her pinky was still hanging on (it was, by a piece skin half way up the digit), all the while making attempts to comfort by saying that if you have to lose a finger, you don’t need your pinky!

I held her close as the ER nurses attempted to put an IV in her foot. (My advice is to get them to call a NICU nurse straight away, it will save a lot of heartache and pain.) I had to walk out one or twice to regain my composure after that.

We took a 30-minute ride to the children’s hospital, and the surgeon arrived; it was now 3am. The young doctor was the first person to put me at ease, sitting down and explaining how the procedure was going to go… and that he felt confident that her finger would be okay. About an hour in the OR then she was resting in recovery, finally at peace.

I was exhausted and just wanted to hold my baby girl. I climbed up on the gurney and laid with her. I’m thankful this moment was captured, I’ll always be there for you kiddo.

Dads are always there when you need them.

-Chris Tischler

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Daughter Fulfills Father’s Dying Wish by Getting his Artwork to Sting

Daughter Fulfills Father’s Dying Wish by Getting his Artwork to Sting
(Instagram/theofficialsting)

In typical dad fashion, fathers will often do anything for their daughters in their times of need. From building a custom video game controller for a daughter with disabilities to bringing trick-or-treating 30,000 feet above ground, dads are gonna dad. When the tables turn and it’s a dad’s time of need, it becomes the daughter’s turn to step up. And that’s exactly what Elizabeth Santiago did.

According to the touching story Santiago shared with Humans of New York, her stepfather, Domingo Santiago, came into her life when she was five years old. He encouraged her creativity, celebrated her successes, and even built her very first bike from scraps. Domingo was an extremely talented artist but put his creativity aside to pursue a more stable career as a police officer. Before putting away his paint and brushes for good, he painted one last painting – a copy of an album cover, depicting a portrait of Sting. He dreamed of one day returning to his art, holding onto the hope of “when I retire”.

Sadly, that distant dream of retirement never came. In 1998, Domingo was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. MS is a disease that impacts your nervous system as well as your brain. Symptoms vary, but it can cause things like chronic pain, vision loss, fatigue, and weakness. Domingo’s symptoms began to worsen over time until eventually, he was unable to stand. In his final days, Domingo and his family were faced with the difficult task of sorting through his belongings. Domingo gave instructions for each and every item, dictating where it should go and to whom it should be given.

Upon rediscovering the old Sting painting in a dusty box, the question was posed again. Where should this go?

Elizabeth Santiago recalled, “His response was immediate. ‘Give it to Sting,’ he said. All of us started laughing. But Dad grew very serious. His eyes narrowed. He looked right at me, and said: ‘Give it to Sting.’ So I guess that’s my final assignment.”

 

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“I was five when he became a person in my world. I didn’t know exactly who he was. I just knew that there was someone around that was making my mother smile. I had to look way up to see him. I’d never met someone so strong. He’d tell me to hold onto his wrist, and he’d lift me into the sky with one hand. He worked at an auto shop, airbrushing designs onto the side of vans. I think he dreamed of being an artist. But he needed something more stable. So after he decided to marry my mom, he became a cop. He never lost touch with his creative side. He was always building things around the house—making things look fancier than we could afford. He built my first bike from scraps. He encouraged me to read. He encouraged me to write. He loved giving me little assignments. He’d give me a quarter every time I wrote a story. Fifty cents if it was a good one. Whenever I asked a question, he’d make me look it up in the encyclopedia. One day he built a little art studio at the back of our house. And he painted a single painting—a portrait of Sting that he copied from an album cover. But he got busy with work and never used the studio again. He was always saying: ‘when I retire.’ ‘I’ll go back to art, when I retire.’ ‘I’ll show in a gallery, when I retire.’ But that time never came. Dad was a cop for twenty years. He was one of the good ones. The kind of cop you see dancing on the street corner. Or skateboarding with kids. But in 1998 he was diagnosed with MS. First there was a little weakness. Then there was a cane. Then there was a wheelchair. It got to the point where he couldn’t even hold a paintbrush. We did his hospice at home. He seemed to have no regrets. He’d been a wonderful provider. He’d raised his daughters. He’d walked me down the aisle. During his final days, we were going through his possessions, one by one. He was telling me who to give them to. I pulled the Sting painting out of an old box, and asked: ‘What should I do with this?’ His response was immediate. ‘Give it to Sting,’ he said. All of us started laughing. But Dad grew very serious. His eyes narrowed. He looked right at me, and said: ‘Give it to Sting.’ So I guess that’s my final assignment.”

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Mickey Sumner, Sting’s daughter, saw the heartbreaking story. She immediately knew what she had to do. Sumner got in touch with Santiago, and soon enough, the painting was held by the very hands it depicted.

Sting’s official Instagram page shared a picture of Sting and Domingo’s painting side by side with the caption, “THE EAGLE HAS LANDED”.

Two daughters united to make a dedicated father’s last request a reality. The pair also started a fundraiser for the National MS Society in memory of Domingo, which has raised over $40,000 so far. Santiago was faced with a seemingly impossible task that ended in the most beautiful, unlikely way. Ok, so maybe not EVERY little thing she does is magic, but this is pretty dang close.